While the beautiful fall suddenly gave way to a furious snow storm, the snow has since given way to copious rains and fog. The rain melted much of the snow and the fog has been dense and constant. Indeed, I can’t remember a span of such sustained fog here in Mount Shasta as there has been the last few days. While the forecast has been for “sunny” weather, that has only proven true for areas above 5,000 feet. Everything below that has been socked in the dark, damp soupy shroud. Fortunately there is the potential to climb higher than the fog and get perspectives on the landscape in clearer skies. Monday morning presented one such opportunity and I headed up to Castle Lake to get an elevated view of the area above the fog. It proved to be a glorious morning.
With no clouds in the sky, the sunrise on Mount Shasta wasn’t the most interesting thing to observe. Indeed, it was the fog settled in the Strawberry Valley and extending further north and enveloping the Shasta Valley.
Black Butte in particular appeared as an island in the fog, surrounded as it was on all sides by the mist. It proved to be a particularly beautiful sunrise on this peak.
The fog seemed to stretch deep into Oregon, overwhelming notable peaks like Soda Mountain and Pilot Rock. The only visible landmark in the Beaver State was stately Mount McLoughlin. The Fuji of southern Oregon rose a few thousand feet above the fog.
As I headed down from Castle Lake, I noticed the western end of Lake Siskiyou was not inundated by fog. This prompted me to head up South Fork Road to see what the conditions were like. This area tends to cling to its snow a little longer since the canyon casts shadows that aren’t dissipated for long during the winter. Sure enough, the road had about 10 inches of snow on it, but the ruts from trucks had cleared a path that was easy to follow. Even still, it became necessary to put my jeep into four-wheel drive to make it to one of my favorite views of Mount Shasta.
The river was flowing strong, which was no surprise after all the rain and snowmelt that has taken place over the last few days.
At my favorite vista, the brightly lit mountain contrasted sharply against the shaded river. I was hoping that a layer of fog might be visible from this perspective but the mists had not pushed far enough to be visible. Nonetheless, it was a beautiful sight.
It was especially gratifying to see Mount Shasta in all of its white majesty. The fog did not even seem to exist from this vantage point and the mountain glittered in the morning sun.
Eventually life beckoned and I had to return to the fog. However, I was able to return to Castle Lake for the sunset.
Just as with the morning, the valley was completely smothered in fog but the mountain remained untouched.
As the sun set, I imagined that I would have been completely unaware of the light show transpiring on the mountain if I had remained in town. As the alpenglow slowly climbed up the mountain it was obvious the fog would remain a while yet, stifling enjoyment of the brief good weather before another round of rainy weather passes through the area. I was glad to be able to enjoy a brief moment with the mountain.
I am glad the wet season has arrived. The mountain is white, the earth is being watered, our needs are being met. Christmas draws nigh and the season of lights is in full swing. I am grateful to have added to it by observing the lights on the mountain once again.